Obamacare & The Latino American Community [UPDATE]
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), universally known as Obamacare, opened enrollment for insurance on Oct. 1, 2013. This came as a relief to low income individuals -- particularly members of the Latino community, which has the highest rate for uninsured adults in the county. In some states, more than a quarter of adult women don't have insurance. In 2010, 30.7 percent of the Hispanic population is uncovered by health insurance, compared to 11.7 percent of the non-Hispanic white population.
Nonetheless, many Spanish-speakers found numerous difficulties when attempting to access the Spanish-language Obamacare website, CiudadoDeSalud, which is more glitch-ridden than HealthCare.gov. Even with the site's failure, Latinos were still responsible for adhering to the same deadlines as English-speaking Americans in order to get coverage by Jan.1. Though, there is a renewed registration deadline by Jan. 15. for coverage that will begin on Feb. 1; open enrollment is ongoing, and will ending on Mar. 31. The site is said to be improving.
By Dec. 20 of last year, only 13 percent of enrollees in California's healthcare exchange were Hispanic, though 38 percent of the state population is Latino. One reason for this is that certain directions on the Spanish-language site were presented in English, rather than Spanish; also, the website sent visitors to English-language third-party sites and state exchange programs. The site's glitches are particularly unfortunate because Spanish-speakers don't have the option of "window-shopping" for plans before they create an account. Previous remarks regarding the Spanish-language site include that it was "mostly cosmetic" and "non-functional."
Latinos who require the use of the Spanish-language site earn between $5 and $15 an hour. Many don't own or use computers, and most are more comfortable speaking Spanish rather than English. There is a distinct "digital and a cultural divide" between laboring Spanish-speaking migrants and fluent English-Speakers who thrive on technology. In addition, Latinos tend to be reluctant about divulging their personal information on the web, and about giving their financial information to the government, particularly if they earn their income in cash. Another hurdle that Latinos facing the Latino population is that a hefty number of states hasn't opted to expand Medicaid.
But some, particularly women and Latino entrepreneurs, are grateful for Obamacare. Luz Rivas of DIY GIrls, Shaherose Charania of Women 2.0 and Patricia Martinez of Healthgauge benefit from affordable healthcare as "freshly minted entrepreneurs." Not having access to health insurance can be deterrence for many who're looking to begin a business. Obamacare will mean that founders of startups will have more options when seeking insurance, and won't have to simply make do without it, which will encourage more Latinos to become small business owners.
"A large number of women and Latino entrepreneurs and small business owners are parents and or possess pre-existing conditions," Patricia Martinez said, adding that it expands on the idea of the young, white male entrepreneur. "The ACA is removing this barrier for working mothers, Latinos with pre-existing diseases, and giving them the opportunity to join the rest of the startup community."
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